Larkin, Rasmussen return but Wings lose 4-3 to Golden Knights
Michael Rasmussen celebrates his goal against Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the third period Thursday.
The Red Wings’ three-game winning streak ended Thursday night. But Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen returned from injuries with authority.
Detroit lost 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights at Little Caesars Arena in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. That’s because Thomas Vanek scored the Wings’ third goal with less than three seconds left.
It was his 11th of the season.
Larkin, who missed only one game with a strained oblique muscle after it was estimated he would be out for a week or two, had two assists in 20:10 of ice time to run his team-leading point total to 51.
It was a game-time decision for Larkin to play.
“I talked with Larks. If he didn’t feel real comfortable with it, we weren’t going to play him,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He went in the morning skate and told me let’s see after that skate and he felt real comfortable and felt like he was ready to play.”
Rasmussen had a goal and an assist and had seven shots on goal in 14:57. He last played on Jan. 4 and missed 10 games with a hamstring injury.
“I felt OK. Obviously, going down to GR” – for a three-game conditioning stint with AHL Grand Rapids – “helped me,” Rasmussen said. “It’s never easy coming back from being injured. But it was OK.”
The 19-year-old rookie forward’s power-play goal 4:41 into the third period brought the Wings to within 3-2. He scored on a backhand shot from in front of the net using his considerable reach – Rasmussen is 6-foot-6 – after a quick pivot move.
“Just got the pass from Frans (Nielsen), just tried to reach around him (Fleury) and put it in,” Rasmussen said.
It was his seventh goal.
“I thought Ras was great. I thought it was the best game he’s played all year for us,” coach Jeff Blashill said.
Brayden McNabb restored the Golden Knights’ two-goal lead with 8:53 left when his shot from the right circle deflected in off the stick of Detroit defenseman Dennis Cholowski.
“Third period, we really didn’t have the same push we had the last few weeks,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Just too passive defensively.”
Jimmy Howard made 28 saves while thr Wings had 39 shots.
Vegas scored three times in the second period to take a 3-1 lead.
Jonathan’s Marchessault’s first goal of the night, 2:04 into the middle period on the power play with Larkin off for slashing, tied the game at 1. Marchessault put in a rebound.
William Karlsson put the Golden Knights ahead 7:08 into the second when he completed a 2-on-1 by putting Paul Stastny’s cross-crease pass into an empty net. Stastny had just come out of the penalty box eight seconds earlier.
Marchessault made it 3-1 with 9:38 remaining in the second period when he capitalized on another rebound.
“We needed to come out of the first period with a bigger lead,” Blashill said. “And then we just made too many mistakes in the second period.”
Detroit soundly outplayed Vegas in the first 20 minutes, outshooting the visitors 14-7.
Nyquist gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead with 8:41 left in the opening period. Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury thought he had corralled Justin Abdelkader’s backhand shot from the bottom of the left circle. The puck was under Fleury’s rear end, but not covered. Nyquist saw that, swooped in from behind the net and swept the puck across the goal line for his 13th goal.
The Red Wings play back-to-back day games on the road over the weekend. They travel to Buffalo for a 1 p.m. game with the Sabres on Saturday and then to Chicago for a 3 p.m. (Eastern) contest Sunday with the Blackhawks at the United Center.